Japanese Girly Skirt

I have been longing to get hold of some of these beautifully photographed Japanese sewing books.  I am sorely tempted by "Pattern Magic", but thought I would ease in with "girly style wardrobe".

The styles in this book are timeless and simple.  I am not the world's fastest sewer.  I am not one of those people that can disappear into their sewing room and emerge triumphant several hours later with a completed garment.  I sew children's clothing when I need my sewing fix and don't have time to sew something for me.  From start to finish, including tracing the pattern and studying the instruction diagrams, this took me 2 hours.

You can see the bias binding waist ribbon tied in a bow at the back

The fabric:  A Japanese cotton, Mustard Blooms,  from Tessuti.  The fabric has a gorgeous texture, which you can see in the photo in the Tessuti on-line shop.  It is hard to tell, but the little flowers are pale pink and white, which makes for easy matching of t-shirts.
I used a pre-formed pink gingham bias trim, from a local quilting shop "The Tinkers Cart".  And why wouldn't you, when it is so cute?  I also bought it in blue and yellow.

The pattern:  Style "d" from girly style wardrobe.  Only, I used less pleats at the front of the skirt because I had a different pattern in mind when I bought the fabric and did not have quite enough fabric for this style.
Here are my tips for working with these patterns
  • Open out the pattern sheet.  Have a look at it, then go and have a cup of tea.  There are a lot of lines.  They will still be there when you get back.
  • You can find translations for the Japanese symbols on the web, but I found it was easier to think about the pattern pieces logically than to match symbols (see here).
  • Seam allowances are not included.  The diagrams in the book show recommended seam allowances to be added to each pattern piece.  There is usually no seam allowance when you are finishing an edge with bias trim.
  • Identify the pattern pieces you need by looking for the style letters.  A bodice piece may be used for several patterns, so it could be labelled with multiple letters.  I did this outside dance class, and some non-sewing people helped me find the pieces I needed, once they realised that I was not looking at house plans.
  • On the pattern sheet, the front bodice is positioned above the front skirt, and the back bodice is positioned above the back skirt.  See?  Logical.  Fronts generally have a lower neckline than backs. 
  • On the instruction diagrams, the big numbers indicate the order in which the steps are sewn.
  • Children's sizes are generally selected on the height (given in cm in this book).  Because my daughter has little hips, I chose a pattern based on hip measurement and then added to the length.  I probably didn't need to add so much length because she likes to wear her skirts under her belly.
  • There are lists in the instructions for how much elastic to buy etc.  It may be helpful to translate these symbols (see here).  Because I was custom-making for somebody, I just inserted the elastic and then adjusted it to fit, before sewing it in place.


  1. Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Gorgeous! Such pretty fabric!

  2. So lovely to see your little one featured here...she's a real cutie. The fabric looks lovely paired with pale pink.

    I had to laugh at the 'house plans' and idea of your dancing friends helping you find the pattern pieces you needed.

    I find Label Free's 'How To' posts about these Japanese pattern books really handy. I printed them out and refer to them alot.


  3. That's a very cute skirt on the little girl. Very "girly". I sew like you. Slow. Patient.

  4. The skirt is charming and I enjoyed the laugh. I am a slow and careful sewer too. I can definitely relate to the cup of tea part, though usually it's coffee in my case.

  5. So cute! Wouldn't it be nice if some company out there would just translate these patterns for us? Maybe there's someone out there who's reading this and has the ability to do this? New business maybe? Just a thought.